Tiny post-war house dilemmas

When people live in tiny homes, built during the post-war era (or thereabouts) a lot of things used to be smaller. Or missing altogether. Electrical outlets come to mind, for example. Although we are not exactly missing outlets at my house, it’s more like there’s not enough of them. I believe code today says you need one every six feet.  That would be great, luxurious even because our living room where we do most of our hanging out only has three outlets, and one doesn’t work. The other two are connected to power bars with lamps, computers and other energy-sucking devices plugged into them. That is simply not enough in today’s society.

Back in the post-war era, people seem to have managed with less stuff, and I’m not just talking about electronics. I’m talking about the size of things, like furniture, or appliances. The way the kitchens were set up back then wasn’t particularly about esthetics or cosmetics, and sometimes it wasn’t even really about functionality. I look  at the layout of our kitchen now, still the same way it was built back in 1949, and wonder how they managed to function. We’ve done work to the kitchen back when we moved in 10+ years ago, but we didn’t change the layout (too costly at the time)…and then things like microwaves and dishwashers were added in the same sort of fashion how the original kitchen was built. What I mean is, things went where they could fit, not where they would increase efficiency for a busy cook-homework-supervisor-lunch-maker-rushing-off-to-hockey-in-five-minutes kind of person.

We added a dishwasher during the basement renovations, since the ceiling down there was gone and they could easily move the plumbing around. The spot we chose for the washer though is not optimal…but we had many restrictions preventing functionality, and essentially it had to go there because nowhere else was feasible. The cabinet we had added during the ‘updating’ of the kitchen prior to the babies arriving became the new home for the washer. We lost the recycling station but the washer adds more value to me than the hidden drawers with empty cans in them, so I grin and bear the sight of the blue recycling bag hanging from a doorknob.

You adapt, is what I’m saying. (Or maybe I settled. I probably should have focused more on that renovation, but in my defense I was eight months pregnant and had a toilet training toddler on my hands…)

We  love the dishwasher and once the kids grew older and the novelty wore off we delegated the emptying of the washer to them.

Ha.

But the location of the washer in this inconveniently laid-out kitchen is a pain in the ass. If the door is open to load or unload it, it essentially blocks half the kitchen. So someone wanting to walk from living room through the kitchen to the other end (we’re in a bungalow so the entire house is on one floor) you have to resort to a type of gymnastics to maneuver through there.

Anyway, none of this was a huge issue because we had a dishwasher for the first time ever and it was SO NICE!

Then the kids got older. The house turned into a hotel. I turned into a short-order cook. People were coming and going day and evening, and the location of the dishwasher became a bit of an irritating issue.

Hence the plan to re-design the layout of the house. But I digress. This isn’t about the dishwasher, it’s about the fridge. Or, more specifically, about dimensions of appliances and furniture.

So the fridge broke. Not for the first time either, and this time it wasn’t the functionality of it (the motor was fine). It was the door shelf. I already duct taped the top of the three door shelves, and now the main one where we keep ketchup bottles and pickled jars finally conked out. Left a big mess for me to clean up five minutes before we had to go somewhere for dinner…

The fridge was a standard sized one, and a traditional one. Meaning the freezer compartment was on top. Over time, this became annoying under the mildest circumstances because of where the fridge was located (again, see post-war fit-it-where-you-can mentality) preventing us from opening the door beyond a 90 degree angle. Sometimes this impeded me from reaching certain items located on the bottom shelf behind things while crouching all the way down and reaching all the way back balancing items which blocked something in one hand and holding the door open with my knee.

I’m not crazy about bending over or bending down every 17 seconds.

Point is, once the final shelf fell off, I had a meltdown and we went shopping for a fridge.

We measured. We measured the spot where the fridge goes, several times. We measure the new fridge with and without the handle attached, the hump-thingy on top where the handle ends, and all around in every direction. We made notes, we made sure it would fit in that stupid spot even though knowing that soon we will have a new layout.

Here’s the thing: we didn’t measure the doorway. Not the entrance, or any other doorway. Why didn’t we?

Well, because we have a fridge in our kitchen. Also other appliances, and furniture. We got them in the house, didn’t we? So we assumed the damned appliance would make it into the house…

Well. The front door was ok. Tight but manageable. The problem was the entrance between the living room and the kitchen…there used to be a door there which I took off to give myself the illusion of an open concept house. Well that doorway was one whole inch too narrow.

Blah.

I should have known this. Years ago after we renovated the basement we bought a lovely couch to put with the new tv downstairs. The delivery guys couldn’t get it down the stairs because of how narrow and short the stairway leading down was. We had to return the couch and buy a sectional one. It’s fine, but it was a hassle and should have taught us the lesson.

The fridge we have now had to be brought in through the backyard. Past the gate, the pool, up the narrow steps, along the narrow hallway and into the kitchen. Of course last night and this morning I had spent hours unloading the old fridge, filling coolers, lining them up along the hallway in the back because I assumed the new fridge will come in through the front door….

SIGH.

So here’s the tips:

Measure.

Then measure again.

Then go and measure the rest of the house because you can never have enough measurements.

Anyway, I’m on the second mop now, because the old fridge leaked all through the house when they removed it but that’s just as well because a clean(er) floor was due anyway. And the new fridge is lovely! It’s an upside down one, where the freezer compartment is on the bottom. Now, we can take refrigerated items out of the fridge without doing yoga poses to reach items, which I’m looking forward to. That is, when I can actually reload the fridge. They said to wait 24 hours before plugging it in.

So…going back to my blueprints coming for the renovation of this bungalow. The one option they’re going to give us is to leave the layout as is. As of this moment, I can already tell you that that option is moot. Because what’s the point? We’ll have a new house with the  same problems and won’t be able to fit things into it that we want.

So many first world problem.  :)

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go buy bags of ice to keep my cooler food fresh. I did not anticipate I won’t be able to use the new fridge for 24 hours.

 

 

 

 

Summer is in full swing. I really enjoy the fact that our schedule is much less structured, although I like the fact that we have some events planned on a daily basis, even if it’s just camp drop-off for Sonja. It gets us breakfasted and out of the house for at least part of the morning each day. But my days are not filled with wiling away…for one thing, that boy of mine is around. He wasn’t interested in joining a camp this year and I’m on the fence whether I should look for something to put him in, even if it’s just an hourly lesson each day.

Tennis lessons was on the books for him, but his coach isn’t available regularly, so that didn’t work out. He wants to play competitive soccer but we’re in competitive hockey for 10 months out of the year so that wasn’t appealing to me or his dad. And to continue with hockey over the summer….no. As much as I like hockey, I for one need a break from the rink.

It is surprisingly difficult to find a specific activity for a kid like Ben that is affordable, conveniently located, and age appropriate. He mentioned he likes sculpting but the only courses I can find, whether they are weekly classes or summer camps, are a combination of art mediums. He’d have to do some painting, some sculpting, some drawing, and all he wants to do is sculpt. So…what to do? My idea was to maybe put him in a half day camp, so that it wouldn’t be too much for him, but for his age group only full-day camps are available. If there is a sculpting class he could take someplace in Toronto, the location was too far away and would add stress and cost too much in gas, so we didn’t pursue that avenue, either.

He wants to play Minecraft. And NHL 14 on the Xbox. Or watch hockey videos on youtube. All day long. He’s be perfectly happy with that kind of a summer. Parenting the pre-teen boy during summer vacation has been an interesting journey so far, is what I’m saying.

:)

Other things that are happening and keeping me occupied:

Blueprints for the house renovation are due at the end of July. We decided to forgo the second story addition and instead redesign the bungalow’s interior to increase functionality. Maybe add a small addition in the back. They’re going to come up with a few different options for us to consider and we’ll go from there.

I need to find more steady work. I feel less than motivated to pursue something now since I have to be around for the non-camp kid, but when someone offers me proofreading or editing, I take it. It’s not much income but it pays for food. And ice cream.

The hockey tournament we did last weekend was a fantastic, amazing success and I am somewhat surprised I feel this way. I wasn’t thrilled about summer hockey but the resort we stayed at had great family-oriented amenities and I felt like it was somewhat of a vacation for me. Ben was thrilled with the games he played, won awards, and although his final goal was counted as a no-goal (the refs didn’t see it go in, even though we all did) he managed to focus on the entire tourney and not just on that final disappointment. Well, most of the time. There have been some processing meltdowns but we’re working on it…

And speaking of hockey, the schedules for September to December are starting to come in. I spend at least an hour a week, if not more, updating the September calendar with all the new practice times, games, and tournaments.

By August, DH will be off for a month-long vacation. This is a relative term….he will have to spend some of the time, probably later in August, to prepare for the fall courses he will have to teach. But we have some plans to leave the house and go places, visit some family at their cottages or camp sites, do some local touring. Ben expressed interest in exploring some caves and we have a few in the not too far off places between here and the Ottawa valley…I also hope to spend some more time in hotels so I don’t have to do as much maintenance or cooking. Stay-at-home moms do this so often and so regularly, it doesn’t really feel like a break unless I don’t have to do, or delegate, jobs like washing dishes or prepping food.

I’m also trying to get Ben more involved in housework. This has been about as challenging as it sounds. He’s always had to help with certain chores, but now that he’s around a lot more I don’t see why I should have to do all the dishes all the time, especially since the dishwasher broke. (Also, the fridge broke. Why can’t these appliances wait until the reno is in full swing to break down? WHY?) I’m a little concerned with his lackluster contribution and the poorly executed jobs. I hate being the bad guy here but really, the time has come to shape up. Yesterday for example, I made him refold all the towels. He wasn’t impressed.

And since we’re on the topic of kids…the two siblings have started a phase I’m not too happy to be entering. The relentless teasing, especially if one is grumpy or pissed off about something, is making me mental. I try to leave it, ignore it, but he gets physical and then she bites, so that requires intervention. The short-term solution has been to go for a bike ride or swim. They burn off all that excess energy they use in fighting or teasing with each other, but frankly, I’m not always up for such an energy-burning activity, and they’re too young to be sent out on bikes alone. I realize that teasing is part of the sibling equation but….well, wine helps.

BUT.

Speaking of wine. I need to drop about 10 pounds. I’m not fat, I don’t consider myself fat, but I have felt some fluctuations in my weight over the past few years, and this past winter and into summer has been a hormonally and emotionally challenging time for me. Wine, and snacks that go well with wine (cheese… yum!), they add to the waist line, and I’m not comfortable in my skin. So, instead of dropping wine all together, I decided to go back to my idea of wine only on weekends (I tried that and failed during the school week, mostly because of homework), and increased my consumption of lemon water. With the lack of wine comes a lack of snacking and cheese, so I’m hoping to feel better sooner rather than later.

And that takes us to the end of my ramble. My mom is taking Ben and I to Costco today, a place I do not own a membership for but don’t mind frequenting once or twice a year just to stock up on a few items, and it’ll be our event for the day.

Now, I must go check email to see if more hockey schedules have arrived…

Ta!

 

Free-flowing creativity doesn’t need a search engine

I sometimes wonder if the internet actually does the opposite of inspire…especially when it comes to creativity.

We all seem so taken with the internet…don’t know something? Type it into a search engine. Want to be inspired? Check Pinterest (or whatever). Feel like procrastinating? Social media.

But when it comes to actually creating something artistic, frankly, I don’t feel like we need to do any Google searches at all. Especially when it comes to the imagination of children. Let them think up their own thing, and create freely and without the constraints of someone’s preconceived idea.

But, there I was with my morning coffee, thinking about our afternoon activity, laptop handy…

Case in point: as a diversion, and since we’re dog-sitting today, I thought we could head down to the pebble beach in the afternoon today. It’s a nice day, the dog will love frolicking in the water, and the kids always find things to occupy themselves on the shores of Lake Ontario. Upon return I thought we could perhaps paint some of the collected pebbles, and use them to decorate our garden.

I had visions in my head what I was going to make: bugs, mostly, like ladybugs and butterflies.

I did not share this thought with the kids. I simply said ‘we could paint some pebbles for the garden’.

This morning however, I typed into Google the search term painting pebbles and the images that returned, mostly from pinterest but also from other sources, were astounding. There is SO MUCH creativity out there, it’s simply phenomenal.

I showed the pictures to the kids.

pebbleimages

While we were looking at the pictures, this current blog post percolated in my head. I had mostly questions:

  • Should I have shown the pictures to them at all?
  • Are they now per-conditioned to paint the pebbles the way they saw, or are they truly inspired to do their own thing?
  • Will they still create freely or will they copy something they saw on the internet?

I think we’ll just experiment a little later on. See what they come up with. Even the 9yo Minecraft-obsessed child is interested in trying his hand at this project, and he’s not usually too keen on painting or drawing. What I did discover is that if we leave him alone and go about doing our thing, it won’t be long when his curiosity peaks, and he asks to join us…

So, we are going to be painting pebbles.

:)

 

 

First week of summer drivel

Sometimes, it’s the little unplanned events that happen on the spur of the moment that make the best memories.

Take Wednesday, the day after Canada day and a regular work day for the bulk of the working world. I had a chiropractic appointment and was somewhat willing to leave the 9yo at home for the 30 minutes I was gone but had to take the 6yo with me. But I said something to her about going to the bakery after so he heard that and decided to join us too. After all, we can’t have one kid have a baked good and not the other, because…siblings! Kids! Also “NOT FAIR!”

You know.

*sigh* Continue reading

Summer vacation started on Friday at 3:15 pm and it’s been a pretty good start so far. We had tennis lessons, a birthday party, a visit or two, and we set up the backyard pool and a new canopy for shade over the picnic table. Which is where I’m sitting right now typing…this, ladies and gents, is my new office.

046

*LOVE* Continue reading

Unwanted solicitors begone

We are not the kind of people who enjoy being solicited to. We never, ever respond to unsolicited advice and DH in particular is especially keen on collecting and researching all pertinent information on a specific product or service on his own time at his own leisure, before we go out and talk to experts or sales personnel.

We never, ever buy things at the door, sent to us by email or direct mail. Anyone who thinks we are more inclined to try something or buy something by saying words that begin with “you must” or “you should” or “you have to try” is guaranteeing that we will never get that thing at all. And don’t even think of calling us on the phone….

If we ask for advice, then yeah, sure, I may take you up on a suggestion. I know already that the kind of fridge I want for my new kitchen is currently being used by friends of ours, and I will pester them for information when the time comes to purchase our own new fridge. Their advice will be invaluable and if they are willing to give us some, then I will welcome it.

But to solicit us in our home, uninvited, um…no. Don’t do that.

So, it was a couple of Sundays ago when it happened. This guy and some young woman were halfway down my driveway when my 9 year old son came to me and said ‘Mommy, they want something”. Continue reading

The end is near, and still so far…

I have no reason to complain at all.

But I have a LONG list of complaints, of late.

*sigh*

We’re all suffering the last of the school days, endure the lunch-making-unpacking-not-eating-can-we-go-for-ice-cream-we-are-staaaarving thing, and frankly, the end seem so far away, still.

We’re in the midst of EQAO standardized testing, as well, which makes the entire ‘get up for school NOW or else’ daily mantra seem even more futile than usual.

I’m depressed. I should be energized and ecstatic because our plans to put a second story on this tiny house has become a reality. The architect is coming on Friday and we are able to provide him with a concrete budget.

This is what our current tiny bungalow feels like:

tiny house

Ok maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I am thanking my lucky starts that we finally have access to the outdoors which just expands our living environment by so much more.

This will be the year of transition. I foresee a lot of whine wine in the coming summer months…I’m hoping that we will all live to see the newly built house in 18-24 months and have not succumbed to the stress of the entire process…I may have to strangle people periodically to maintain my sanity, but such is just how the cookie crumbles ’round here lately.

I will chronicle the journey of our new adventure on a blog. Not sure yet if I’m going to publicize it, but if I am, I’ll post the link here.

Cheers!